Prince Philip finally sent a personalized letter of apology to one of his crash victims

Royal wedding

You know what? I imagine the Duchess of Sussex might have had a small chuckle in the aftermath of Prince Philip’s car accident two weeks ago. I’m not saying that Meghan would laugh about a 90-something reckless driver running over two women and a baby. But she might have felt justifiably smug about how badly Buckingham Palace handled the media relations in the aftermath. For all the talk about how the palace courtiers are geniuses about how they maintain a cone of mystery and silence around Liz & Phil, the palace screwed up over and over again, from the delivery of a shiny new Land Rover while two women were in the hospital, to Philip being seen driving without a seatbelt just two days after the crash, to the lack of direct apology, it was all just a PR nightmare for the elderly royals. So after more than a week of terrible headlines, someone finally convinced Philip to sign his name to a written apology to one of his victims:

Britain’s Prince Philip has apologized to a woman left injured after his car accident earlier this month, blaming the crash on sunlight that obscured his view and admitting he was “shaken” by the incident. Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, wrote a letter to Emma Fairweather, who suffered a broken arm when her car collided with the 97-year-old’s Land Rover on a public road near the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England.

“I would like you to know how very sorry I am for my part in the accident,” Philip wrote in the letter, which was obtained by the UK’s Sunday Mirror newspaper. A Buckingham Palace spokesperson confirmed to CNN that the letter was sent by Philip. “I have been across that crossing any number of times and I know very well the amount of traffic that uses that main road. The sun was shining low over the main road. In normal conditions I would have no difficult in seeing traffic coming from the Dersingham direction, but I can only imagine that I failed to see the car coming, and I am very contrite about the consequences.”

Fairweather told the Mirror she recalls the day being overcast, but said she was grateful for the apology. The letter is dated January 21, three days after the crash occurred.

“I was somewhat shaken after the accident, but I was greatly relieved that none of you were seriously injured,” Philip added. “I have since learned that you suffered a broken arm. I am deeply sorry about this injury. As a crowd was beginning to gather, I was advised to return to Sandringham House by a local Police Officer.”

Philip was criticized after he was pictured driving on a public road without a seatbelt just 48 hours after the crash, while Fairweather had earlier told the Mirror that she had not heard from the Duke in the days immediately following the incident. She told the newspaper after receiving the letter: “I thought it was really nice that he signed off as ‘Philip’ and not the formal title. I was pleasantly surprised because of the personalised nature.”

[From CNN]

Emma Fairweather even provided a copy of the letter to media outlets to publish, so we could see Philip’s signature. The letter itself is typed, and I would imagine that it was dictated partially by Philip and partially by palace courtiers. I also think it’s hilarious that the palace thought they were being clever by dating the letter January 21st when clearly this was written after a full week of bad press. Also: “I would like you to know how very sorry I am for my part in the accident” makes it sound like Emma Fairweather was also partly to blame. That’s not the way it works.

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51 Responses to “Prince Philip finally sent a personalized letter of apology to one of his crash victims”

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  1. OriginalLala says:

    excuses upon excuses and then partially blaming the other driver…wow, It’s the Tom Brokaw of non-apologies!

    • Lunde says:

      Where does he blame the other driver?

      • OriginalLala says:

        “I would like you to know how very sorry I am for my part in the accident” – implying that not all the fault rests with him

    • Eliza says:

      He blames the sun in his eyes.

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        I blame his recklessness, slowed reaction time, and lack of sunglasses.

      • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

        I blame his nonagenarian brain and reflexes. I’d like to see him be compelled to having a full road / eye reflex speed test. Most that age are not fit to drive because of any or all of the aforementioned deficiencies.

      • Feeshalori says:

        I wonder if they give depth perception/peripheral vision eye tests? I got one the other day during my eye exam and not only do you have to detect those blinking lights pretty fast, you have to be quick on the trigger like a Jeopardy contestant.

      • Lizounette says:

        He might be blaming his security personnel for not keeping a better leash on him!

  2. Maria says:

    Too little, too late.

  3. Elisabeth says:

    QE is cutting a check as they typed this

  4. Mia says:

    Don’t know how it works in the UK but in America, an insurance company will tell you not to admit fault. Maybe this is why it took so long for an apology, insurance company and the Firms’s PR working together.

    • Laur says:

      Absolutely this is how it works, parties would never normally contact each other directly. I understand he probably was at fault and no doubt that’s the conclusion the insurance company will come to, however if he was just an ordinary guy he wouldn’t be expected to make this apology at all. I don’t think he should be driving at all, I agree the Palace handled it terribly, but I also don’t think the apology letter should be plastered all over the media.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      Yes this is how it works in the UK, you are told by the police and insurers not to apologise till after the investigation and claims are complete as an apology is admitting culpability. We should wait to see what the police say – yes he wasn’t paying due attention when pulling out of the junction, but the Kia must have hit the Land Rover at some speed in order to over turn it – LR are very heavy cars. And before anyone jumps on me, the press have reported several times that its a notorious speeding and accident hot spot.

      • FredsMother says:

        Thus isn’t an insurance issue alone. He has no choice to apologise because he is from the Royal family. If he does not extend any form of courtesy the whole thing comes off as if he is callous, above the law and ”let them eat caming”. Especially since he got right back into a posh car two days later… The optics were bad.

    • Snowflake says:

      Yes, exactly.

    • amanda says:

      In Canada, a prompt apology itself will not impact civil cases as it’s not an admission of fault and can’t be used as evidence. Getting into the exact details of how you were too blinded by the sun could be used against you but showing regret won’t. I’m surprised this isn’t the way it works in the UK. An apology that shows up after a week of bad press seems insincere.

    • Lunde says:

      Exactly the same in the UK – if you do anything to admit fault you risk invalidating your insurance. The insurance company always tells you not to admit fault even if you are at fault. So his legal advice would be to wait until the investigation is complete or at least formal statements have been taken before issuing any apologies.

    • Lilly (with the double-L) says:

      That’s what I’ve been wondering too. I’m all for giving up driving, if a person is too elderly to drive well. I’m just not convinced that this is the case. But, going on TV shows, interviews etc. is clouding my judgment on the the entire thing, I know. Not that she should just shut up and respect the monarchy, it’s more the needing contact and an apology. But, I can be happy for her that she got what she wanted.

      • Tina says:

        It’s more that BP said that Philip had been in contact when he hadn’t, it was just a police liaison officer passing on “well wishes.” I don’t think she needed contact and an apology, but she (completely understandably, in my view) resented that it had been said that both had been provided when they hadn’t.

  5. minx says:

    Too late, you pampered old coot.

  6. Kittycat says:

    Hope the woman can move on now.

    Accidents do happen.

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      He was, per all accounts including his, 100% as fault. This one was preventable.

      • Kittycat says:

        Nice motive but still murder am I right?

        But still an accident which of course could have been prevented.

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        The meaning of the term ‘accident’ can be debated for decades but responsibility in this one can be clearly assigned. There was nothing the injured party could have done to prevent this and much the Prince could have done to prevent this.

      • Kittycat says:

        Well technically the other driver could have been aware that people are always making mistakes and to drive with extra caution.

      • molly says:

        I don’t think the OP was calling this an accident as in, “no one was at fault.” I read it as accident is often synonymous with car crash. We use the terms interchangeably because crash sounds too dramatic. Car crashes happen every minute for a million reasons.

      • Tina says:

        We don’t call them accidents any more in the UK. We call them collisions. This was a collision that was almost certainly the fault of the 97 year old driver who ventured onto the main road when he was not clear to do so.

    • Natalie S says:

      It’s not an accident if someone who has a history of reckless driving behaves in a way that leaves you with a broken wrist. This will be over when Philip is prevented from driving on public roads.

      Seriously, if that were your child in the car, wouldn’t you be upset that there’s a chance the driver is still going to be driving on the same roads as you?

  7. Eliza says:

    He caused an accident. He paid for car damages by sending a new car. Police should ticket him for fault in accident and driving without belt.

    I’m sorry a letter to the passenger is not required. I think crying to the public you need a personal apology because someone is famous is so weird.

    I got rear ended recently and just getting the guy at fault to pay for damages was a pain. Yes Philip made a bad decision on the road and caused a terrible accident, but they way the press goes on he purposely went out of his way to attack a baby.

    • Smalltowngirl says:

      The new car was for for him, unless I missed a second car delivery. He replaced his own car within hours, not theirs.

      • Eliza says:

        Thank you, I may have misread that. I’m sure the driver won’t need to track him down to pay for damages. As it is the passenger, not the driver, requesting the letter of apology publically.

      • Tina says:

        The passenger was the person with the more serious injury (a broken wrist). And she didn’t say anything until it was widely reported (from a Buckingham Palace source) that the two had been in contact and “well wishes exchanged,” which wasn’t true.

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      If you’re reckless, drive too fast, drive without a seatbelt, drive if impaired by disability – slowed reaction time, poor eyesight, if you drive into the sun without sunglasses – you have to accept the idea that you could actually cause harm to others as a result of your poor choices.

    • Oc says:

      The new car was for Phillip and from what I can remember, the woman just opened her mouth after the Palace said they contacted her to see how she was doing and she came to the press to say that it didn’t happen. He was seen few days after the accident driving by himself and without a seat belt. The Palace and him dealed with the situation poorly.

    • minx says:

      He bought her a car? I missed that.
      I don’t think the accident itself was what triggered people—I mean it did, but it was more the high-handedness of the BRF and the stories that poured out about past careless driving. And the fact that he’s too old to be driving himself and that next time someone could die.

      • Eliza says:

        I only saw 1 story about him doing recklessly in the 1960s. So i may have missed the others.

        I think the press are really enjoying sticking it to any royal member right now as people enjoy commenting on “the spongers”.

        Yes he’s old, but distracted drivers come in all ages and they don’t get their license revoked after 1 crash. So i don’t get the blood on press. Except that the press seem to enjoy bringing only certain members of the family down.

      • ArtHistorian says:

        He was involved in a crash in the 1980s and almost caused a head-on collision in 87 when he drove in the middle of the road and then swerved into the opposite lane because he was too busy chatting with ex-king Constantine of Greece.

        Tom Sykes covered several of the incidents in an article in The Daily Beast. He even cites an anonymous courtier saying that privilege, arrogance and entitlement plays a role in how Philip drives. (I’m not putting in a link because when I do, the posts never make it past moderation)

        There are also documented incident all the way back to the late 1940s.

    • Eliza says:

      I recently was abroad and drove long distance with two family members behind the wheel. The first high in 80s, the second in late 20s. I felt much safer with the 80-something year old.

      Philip passed his eye exam. He caused only this one accident in decades, and accidents can happen to anyone (big and small). If it was the second in a couple years I could see it as reckless. But 1st offense, maybe I’m just giving benefit of the doubt.

  8. Who ARE These People? says:

    “I can only imagine that I failed to see the car coming,” says, with an aristocratic shrug, the driver who totally and in reality failed to see the car coming.

    Someone T-boned me coming out of a parking lot. She got out of the car and exclaimed, “I didn’t see you!” Yah, that was the point. She would have seen me if she’d looked.

    • jay says:

      I hate this prose-y speak the uppercrust brits often use like, “why merry me, i shan’t have wasted an ounce of belted seat to protect mine own safety and thine” like buddy…take it down a notch and say sorry, maybe send her one of those shiny new range rovers like the one you got the next day. then shut up and hand your license in.

  9. Becks1 says:

    I’m not sure how I feel about the letter being given to the media -I think it would have been sufficient to say “yes, we received a very nice letter from the Prince” and just left it at that. And I agree that the letter is basically a non-apology but that was to be expected. Philip wasn’t going to say “I’m so sorry, I have realized that I shouldn’t be driving anymore.”

    • FC says:

      Royal reporters are all over this woman now claiming she’s “milking it” when actually the RF wanted her to release it so they could change the narrative. It’s working, too.

    • jay says:

      But it wasn’t a very nice letter. It was a ton of lame excuses and flowery whining.

  10. Diamond Rottweiler says:

    There is some small part of me that recognizes and even sympathizes with the fraught psychodynamic of family trying to get an elderly man to give up driving. I saw this with both my father and my uncle, both of whom were absolute menaces behind the wheel by the time they were in their 80s. My mother and aunt couldn’t be convinced by anything to address it with their husbands, and it turned into a huge row when we kids tried to intervene. My mom didn’t speak to me for weeks when I made it quietly clear my son would not be getting in the car if Grandpa was driving! Strange that the wives of these guys often feel like “immasculating” their husbands is worse than, say, two women and a baby being smashed into, but I think that’s what it often comes down to. But yeah, the mess the royal family made of this makes me realize they do occupy their own weird planet. *smh*

  11. GreenQueen says:

    Nope, take his keys away and hell the typewriter too – that is the most pathetic letter I’ve read in a long time. It’s actually kind of sad that anyone approved that letter. It’s hard to believe someone with a purported education wrote that.

    I’m fairly certain that man isn’t even capable of wiping his own ass these days, WHY is he driving?!! I think I’ve just had my share of stupid these last two years and I’m sick of people being able to buy their position in society. Stupid is as stupid does. He needs a nanny. Hard to imagine pay taxes for that old fart to attempt murder on innocent people.

  12. Patty says:

    Regardless of who you are, since when is sending a handwritten apology a thing when being an accident.

    Count me in as well as someone who doesn’t understand why people are demanding he stop driving.

    Last time I checked he doesn’t have a history of motor vehicle accidents and I’ve heard he has passed all required test to be a licensed driver. There’s no evidence that the accident happened because of his age or slowed reflexes.

    Drivers in their early twenties are the most dangerous, followed by drivers in the late twenties to late thirties. It’s really ageist to proclaim that all drivers over xx age should be off the road.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      He doesn’t have a history of accidents but he does have a history of publicised bad driving, there have been many reports about it over the years.

    • ArtHistorian says:

      He has an extensive history of accidents and near misses going back to the 1940s. His friend and biographer even thinks that he never sat for a form driver’s test.

    • Lady D says:

      He’s just not that limber at 97. No matter who the 97yo is, they have delayed reactions and less articulation of their bones, it’s just a fact of life.

    • jay says:

      Yeah…sending a handwritten apology really doesn’t make sense. It’s almost like the guy is senile or something.